Second in a series on my Charboneau ancestors in New York’s Adirondack foothills during the summer of 1934.
After my paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau received a Self Book from a guest, she used the blank pages to write about events at the Otter Lake Hotel — which she operated with my grandfather William Ray Charboneau in Oneida County’s Town of Forestport.
My dad said the hotel could not have run without her. She handled deliveries, coordinated hotel and kitchen staff and created an enjoyable atmosphere for guests escaping hotter climes to summer near the Adirondacks.
My grandmother’s newsroom style
Reading her entries, I can’t help but think that — with training and editorial help — she might even have made a good local newspaper reporter. Her first short piece described a birthday party at the hotel.
A very enjoyable party was held in the dining room of the Otter Lake Hotel on Saturday, August 11 – 1934. The occasion being Mrs. P. J. De Vries birthday. A birthday cake and favors for all the guests were enjoyed. Also Mr. James Burrus passed wine to all. Guests were Mr. & Mrs. P. J. De Vires, Mr. James Burrus and Miss Margaret Saum [all from Brooklyn]; Mr. & Mrs. Louis Migurt, Misses Hilda and Adele Migurt, Misses Lillian Hundley and Jennie Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Manning, Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Norton.
A cultural gathering place
In a later entry my grandmother reveals that, beyond being a guesthouse, the Otter Lake Hotel served as a cultural gathering place for the lakeside community — spreading goodwill by hosting performances.
A string trio and soloist gave a lovely concert on the evening of August 22 – 1934 in the parlor of the Otter Lake Hotel. The trio was composed of George Wald pianist, Eugene Gantner violinist and Edward Creswell cellist. Symphonic selections and Russian music were much enjoyed. Mr. Creswell gave the Liebestraum and Tarantella as solo numbers. Mr. Gantner gave Ave Maria in a very beautiful manner. Mr. Elliot Stewart sang several selections and rendered Old Man River in a wonderful manner. The concert was much enjoyed by the guests and people from around the lake.
Family on the guest list
My grandmother included herself and my grandfather among the August 22 concert guests (Mr. & Mrs. W. R. Charboneau). And I was surprised to see my Aunt Gig — who later married my dad’s oldest brother Owen — listed as a guest under her maiden name (Aline Des Jardin).
Guests present were Misses Lillian Hundley and Jennie Wilson, Mr. W. R. Wilson, Mr. & Mrs. Migurt, Misses Hilda and Adele Migurt, Mr. & Mrs. Edward Manning, Miss Irene Hundley, Mr. & Mrs. Stewart George, Mrs. Arthur Logan, Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Reese, Barbara Reese, Mary Berthalman, Aline Des Jardin, Mrs. John White, Mary White, May Mangan, Ed Unser, Sadie Underwood, Marie Sorenson, Mr. & Mrs. W. R. Charboneau, Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Norton, Mr. & Mrs. Dan Tanner, Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Tanner and many others.
Roscoe Norton ‘s curtain call
Two other interesting guests at both events were Mr. & Mrs. R. G. Norton.
Roscoe Norton was the original owner of the Otter Lake Hotel. He was also instrumental in saving and moving St. Trinitatis Church, where my German-Swiss Zinsk ancestors worshipped. Today it stands on land he donated as Otter Lake Community Church.
My dad often told stories about Roscoe, who operated the Whistlestop general store/post office across from the hotel — like how he would put on his official hat when he went to the postal window in his small store, then take it off again in the general-store side, on again, off again all day long.
Dad even patterned a character after Roscoe in his Labor Day Mystery novel — so it was nice to see him listed with his wife among the party goers at the hotel.
Up next: My grandmother’s write-up of a 1934 Charboneau family reunion. Please stop back.
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